As a starting artist, you are scrambling for something, *anything* that will help you break through the noise. It might be a job, or a convention, or a chance to meet a pro, or a workshop....You don't know, so you try to cast your net as wide as you can, and do everything. Turning down an opportunity that could help you seems insane!
..and that's exactly what I'm contemplating doing.
The reality is, not all opportunities are created equal, and taking them on is a little like buying a lottery ticket. They have a chance of helping you, but they also have a cost, and you have to factor those things together. You also have to believe in yourself, not the random whims of fate.
You might end up turning down something that could really help you....but it could really help you because you are good enough to take on the challenge, and you have to believe that even if this thing could lead to a "big break," another opportunity will come along. Otherwise, you will go mad.
My specific case today - I applied to get an artist alley table at Emerald City Comicon next April. They changed the process again this year, and I was offered a slot. I have until October 21st to decide if I want it or not.
It's a big con, tens of thousands of people go, and it could be great for networking and exposure. I missed last year, but I've done the con for years, and I've always had a good time...but as I said, not all opportunities are created equal. Three weeks after ECCC, I'm sharing a table at Spectrum Live, and I am SUPER excited about that...so do I want to do 2 events in April?
First consideration is financial cost - I can drive to ECCC, which is nice, but I have to pay for the table, food and lodging for a 4 day con...plus I might very well have to take time off my day job. Am I going to sell enough to break even?
Second consideration is target audience - I'm primarily a concept artist and a set designer. While it is super cool to have fans in the general population, my target audience is art directors and studios. I have very little desire to model my career like Catish or Loish, where my fans make a huge part of my income and job sourcing. There are studios in Seattle, but is 4 days promoting myself to the general public the best use of my time?
Third consideration is materials - One the positive, I could use ECCC as a dry-run for Spectrum, which would be cool, but I'd have 3 less weeks to prepare, and I'd have to print more stuff....and I'm not sure that the kind of things that would appeal to one crowd would necessarily work for the other.
Fourth, and maybe the most important consideration is energy - Cons are a lot of work! That's time I'm not creating, or spending time with my girlfriend, or resting.
Factor all those considerations against the fact that I love doing cons, and I *could* meet up with an art director who wants me to work on something super cool. I could sell a ton of sketchbooks and make some mad $$$ to help me get to Spectrum. It's a lottery ticket....you don't know, and no one should make those decisions for you.
So that's my situation - and I haven't decided yet, but I wanted to share my thinking, because I've seen a lot of artists tie themselves up in knots of guilt for not doing something, or for doing it and over-taxing their resources for "nothing." When you decide to do something, throw yourself into it 100%, regardless of the outcome, but don't feel bad if you decide to sit one out because it doesn't meet your ROI (Return on Investment)
Thanks for reading! I hope when you have these kinds of decisions to make, this was helpful :)